Excerpts from science, technology, environment and health reports from around the web.
Two weeks ago, Professor Rajesh Rao sat in his lab at the University of Washington wearing a cap studded with blue and green electrodes. He thought about pressing the spacebar on his computer keyboard to fire a cannon in a video game. And as he thought that, Andrea Stocco, a colleague sitting in another lab on the university’s campus, involuntarily pressed his own keyboard's space bar.
Dr. Rao and Dr. Stocco have created what is believed to be the world’s first noninvasive human brain interface, which uses existing, but still cutting-edge, technology in a novel application. The experiment represents what the scientists call a forward movement in a fast accelerating field that aims to help us manipulate the world with just our brains.
The retina is an enormously powerful tool. It sorts through massive amounts of data while operating on only a fraction of the power that a conventional digital camera and computer would require to do the same task.
Now, engineers at a company called iniLabs in Switzerland are applying lessons from biology in an effort to build a more efficient digital camera inspired by the human retina.
Mark Zuckerberg wants to get everyone on Earth connected to the internet.
Last week, in an effort to reach this lofty goal, the Facebook CEO announced the establishment ofInternet.org, a consortium that allied his company with handset makers (Nokia, Samsung, Ericcson), a browser company (Opera), and network infrastructure manufacturers (Qualcomm, MediaTek). In a 10-page white paper shared on, yes, Facebook, he postulated that a connected world could address economic disparity and outlined a vision of even the poorest people connecting to low-cost, low-data versions of basic Internet services.
A big problem for certain clinics is how to bring the paying American customer (i.e. the patient) and the biological product that they are selling derived from the patient’s stem cells together outside the reach of the FDA so a lucrative stem cell transplant can occur.
These clinics realize that exporting a human stem cell biological product out of the US with the intention of clinical use without regulatory permission is almost certainly illegal. In addition, to do it legally, US Customs would likely require an export fee.
China will send a rover to the moon by the end of the year, officials announced Wednesday. Though it was originally slated for September, officials are now planning to launch early December 2 local time (December 1 in the US).
"The Chang'e-3 mission makes best use of a plethora of innovative technology. It is an extremely difficult mission that carries great risk," said Ma Xingrui, head of China's space exploration body and chief commander of the lunar program.
When we last left Tom Williams and his team of young engineers, they were busy bringing monster 1960s-era rocket engines back to life. That work continues to pay dividends, but Williams and the propulsion systems team at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, have a wide variety of projects in the works at the moment. Their latest? 3D printing rocket components from scratch and firing them.
Remember the periodic table from chemistry class in school? Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have presented fresh evidence that confirms the existence of a previously unknown chemical element. The new, super-heavy element has yet to be named.
An international team of researchers, led by physicists from Lund University, have confirmed the existence of what is considered a new element with atomic number 115. The experiment was conducted at the GSI research facility in Germany. The results confirm earlier measurements performed by research groups in Russia.
An analysis of gravity and topography data from Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has revealed unexpected features of the moon's outer ice shell. The best explanation for the findings, the authors said, is that Titan's ice shell is rigid and that relatively small topographic features on the surface are associated with large roots extending into the underlying ocean. The study is published in the August 29 issue of the journal Nature.